Video Imaginative Prayer with Scripture

Alyssa Trutter is back with Beyond the Pew, and this week she talks about one of her favorite ways to read the Bible. Imaginative prayer is about diving into Scripture and asking God what He wants us to learn.

Welcome to Beyond the Pew. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about prayer with Scripture, ways that you and your family can enter more deeply into the Word of God.

Today we’re going to focus specifically on imaginative prayer. This is one of my favorite ways to pray with Scripture and even in general, to just pray. It’s a time where you’re able to take a passage and really picture it in your mind and enter into it yourself.

So to do this, you first want to select a passage and you’re looking for a passage that tells the story, probably from Jesus’s life, but tells a story that’s very vivid, that has a lot of imagery that has a really elaborate setting, something that you can take time to imagine. So an example of that might be Jesus calming the storm at sea, where you could picture the waves and hear the wind or see the boat and hear the Apostles talking to one another. Another example of that might be the woman at the well. So you can picture the day being hot and the sight of the well there.

It’s a real beautiful way to have Scripture come alive for you.

So you’re looking for something that has a really detailed setting so that you can take time to enter into it. Once you select this passage, read through it slowly and as I said go through and see all of the different details in your mind. Going through your five senses really helps with this. So what do things smell like if you were there? What would things sound like? What would you see? What would you feel? So take the time to really picture that and to imagine that.

And then, as you do that, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what details really draw you in, where does your focus go. And they might seem like silly things at the time but what you’re gonna do with these details that catch your attention is you’re going to start to talk to God about them. So you might for example, using this story of Jesus calming the storm again, one of the things that really might draw you in is the size of the waves, the size and the sound of them as they beat against the boat and that’s just really drawing you in and catching your attention.

So once you’ve read through the passage and you’ve pictured this whole story in this whole scene if that’s where you’re drawn, ask God about that. “Lord, what is it about these waves? What does this remind me of? What does this make me think of about what’s going on in my life right now? Are there things that just seem to continue to beat up against me, continue to weigh me down or continue to scare me or frighten me or intimidate me.” So you can talk to the Lord about these things that catch your attention. It’s a real beautiful way to have Scripture come alive for you.

I think praying in this way is a good opportunity for you to talk to your children about how they picture these Gospel events. So you can each take time to pray with the same same passage individually, and then come together afterwards maybe over dinner or in a car ride and discuss what stood out to you. Maybe it’s the waves, for somebody else it might be the sound of the wind or it might have been Jesus walking on the water or calling out to the storm. Whatever it is, it’s an opportunity for you guys to share these different parts of Scripture and then to share about the ways you think that the Lord is speaking into your life, the things that he’s trying to teach you when it comes to this kind of imaginative prayer.

Good luck diving into Scripture in this new and exciting way. Please know that we will be praying for you at Ablaze Ministries. Thanks and God bless.

Video How to Start a Family Bible Study

Sometimes the Bible can be intimidating at a glance, but with the right tools & resources, your family can receive the Word of God and allow it transform your home. In this video, Matt explains why you NEED to start a bible study with your family.

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew again. My name is Matt Rice, and today I want to talk to you about family bible studies, actually sitting down as a family reading scripture together and reflecting on it. Many of us Catholics, sadly, we haven’t spent a lot of time in bible studies.

So when someone says the word bible studies, we actually don’t know what they mean. Sometimes we’re like, “Wait, hold on. Does that mean I have to have a theology degree? Does that mean I have to know everything about the scripture?” Absolutely not. A Bible study is honestly just your take on the scripture and sharing that with the people that you’re with.

So you would find a particular scripture that you would read aloud, everyone in the group and let’s say your family would share about what that means to them like what came out to them. If there was a specific word they really just caught their attention and talk about why it might have caught their attention.

Read that scripture and just reflect on it together as a family. What does it mean to you? How can you apply it to your life?

Now that actually is probably a little higher level Bible study for a family, especially depending on the ages. So my youngest is three and my oldest is thirteen. So that level of Bible study might work for my thirteen-year-old but it wouldn’t work for my seven-year-old or my five-year-old. So we actually use a devotional if you will it’s called Jesus is Calling. There’s actually one that’s an adult version and then there’s this kids version, and I actually like the kids version better. The reflections seem to really fit really well with where my kids are in their life.

So our family Bible study is relatively short and it’s in the mornings. We do it before we leave the house. So we’ll sit together, we’ll go to the day that this particular devotional is set to, we’ll read the scripture that’s at the top of it, and then we’ll read the reflection on it. And that’s basically what our Bible study looks like in the morning.

Now sometimes you might be able to spend a longer time in Scripture, so let’s say your family is going to Mass next Sunday, which hopefully you are, you get to sit down and look at the scripture that you’re gonna read at Mass that week. So sometimes during the week whether it’s Wednesday or maybe even Sunday morning before you go to Mass, sit together as a family and reflect on the Gospel. Start there, that would be relatively simple because the Gospel readings are really easy to find, you can go to USCCB.org and find the readings for the next week, and it will give you is exactly what you’re gonna hear at Mass.

So you sit down together as a family, open up with the sign of the Cross, read that scripture and just reflect on it together as a family. What does it mean to you? How can you apply it to your life? Is there a word that you don’t understand? Look it up. And that’s where having a Study Bible will really be beneficial, because there are ideas and concepts and words in scripture that aren’t part of our everyday language and our everyday understanding. So those footnotes in a Study Bible will help you to understand that a little bit more.

My hope for you again is that you dive into Scripture as a family, that you spend some time studying God’s Word and allowing him to love you and to love your family through that. God bless

Video Start Reading the New Testament

The New Testament of the Bible is the history of our Church. But how much of it have you read? In this video, Taylor challenges all of us to take the time to read the Acts of the Apostles, as they began preaching the Gospel, to be inspired by the letters of Paul & early Church leaders, and to dive into the Book of Revelation, which should inspire a hunger for the Mass.

Howdy and welcome back to Beyond the Pew. My name’s Taylor, and it’s great to be here with you on another week of Beyond the Pew in our series on the Bible. So today we’re going to be looking specifically at the New Testament, except for the Gospels. We covered that last week. We’re looking at the book of Acts. We’re looking at the letters written to the churches to individuals, and then that crazy book of Revelation, that nobody seems to understand, we’re gonna try to shed some light on that a little bit as well.

So first of all, the book of Acts is my favorite book in the Bible, hands down or hands up, I don’t know what I’m doing, hands down my favorite book in the Bible. It’s the story of the young church, so Jesus ascends into heaven, promises the Holy Spirit, they receive the Holy Spirit the Apostles do, the disciples do on that first Pentecost, and when the Holy Spirit comes it changes everything. It turns these guys who were scared to even be around the crucifixion into some of the greatest preachers of all time. These guys who were simple fishermen that weren’t brainiacs but now all of a sudden, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they’re able to preach, that people want to be converted. They’re able to walk by and people are healed. They’re able to raise people from the dead.

It always reminds me of the power of prayer, that the power of believing in the Holy Spirit, and the power of knowing that God really can do the impossible

These are just stories that every time that I’ve read through the book of Acts, it’s not that long you read like a chapter a day and finish in about a month, it always reminds me of the power of prayer, that the power of believing in the Holy Spirit, and the power of knowing that God really can do the impossible when it seems like there’s things that God can’t fix in your life. He absolutely can. You can find that in the book of Acts.

Then, there’s the bulk of it is all these letters. In the book of Acts we see the conversion of so many different people, and one of those is Paul which is a great thing otherwise the New Testament would be very, very short, because he wrote the bulk of it. In these letters to churches, he would travel around plant churches and then send them letters on how they were doing. He would hear how they were doing, and address how they can continue to grow in holiness and grow in the truth, knowledge, and love of Jesus Christ.

It says in the scriptures that his word never comes back void

So that’s the primary thing that these letters are for, is to one, let us know the story of Jesus and what he did for us, but also to call us to greater holiness, to challenge us into greater holiness. Reading these letters is one of the best practical ways to assess yourself and to grow in your personal holiness. I promise you if you’re reading these letters that you cannot read them and walk away without becoming a better spouse, a better parent, a better person because these are the things that God wants to share with you on how you can grow and be more and more like him.

It says in the scriptures that his word never comes back void, that anytime that you spent time in his word, especially in these letters that are challenging you and encouraging you to fall more in love with God and with your neighbor. It will definitely accomplish what God set out to do. This happened for me when I was in college. I truly set out, started reading the New Testament, and I read the whole thing within a semester. And it truly changed my life, the most impactful semester I’ve ever had in my entire life, and then we finally get to the book of Revelation, what a doozy that one is right. Everybody’s like, “Oh it’s talking about the end of the world. It’s gonna happen on Tuesday.” No it’s probably not. People’ve been saying that for years.

So what actually is the book of Revelation? So the book of Revelation, it is written by John when he had a vision of what heaven would look like. And what it really is, is an allegory trying to give people hope. They lived in a time where they were persecuted, where people were being martyred for the faith, and John wrote this to essentially say all the bad things that are happening in your life right now, there’s going to be a place, this heaven, that is going where there’s no more tears, there’s no more sorrow, and it’s going to be this great wedding feast of the Lamb.

And speaking of that wedding feast of the Lamb, that’s the other major part of this book of Revelation, is that it’s actually about the Mass. This is crazy! It’s something that I didn’t learn until a couple of years ago, but if you think about like when you go to Mass, you hear holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts, this is us participating in the worship that the angels are constantly doing in heaven. And when like the Mass is truly when heaven meets earth, and we become one with God when we receive the Eucharist. There are so many dozens and dozens of parallels between revelation and the Mass, where heaven and earth are finally touching, and that’s ultimately our final goal is to get to heaven. So all of these books are trying to help us to do that.

John wrote this to essentially say all the bad things that are happening in your life right now, there’s going to be a place, this heaven, that is going where there’s no more tears, there’s no more sorrow, and it’s going to be this great wedding feast of the Lamb.

My challenge for you: the New Testament, if you read two chapters a day you can finish it in almost a little over four months. I would challenge you to do that, just for yourself, as a parent, as a spouse, and maybe to spend some time and ask your kids some questions about it as well. But let’s work on you and me here this week, and I want to take that challenge up with you.

Thank you guys for listening. I hope it helped you out. God bless you and yours, and we’ll be back next week on Beyond the Pew.

Video What Are The Gospels?

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. As we continue this series on Scripture, we’re going to be focusing today on the life of Jesus.

So there are four different books in the Bible, the Gospels, which means “good news,” these four books tell the good news of Jesus and focus in on his life and tell us about who he is. Those four books are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Now just because there’s four, doesn’t mean that these books all contradict each other or they’re telling different stories or giving us different perspectives on Jesus to the point where they contradict each other, that’s not true, that’s not happening.

They’re, a lot of times, telling the same stories but really just highlighting different parts of who Jesus is. It would be the same thing if you asked your spouse to tell someone about you or your child to tell someone about you or your boss to tell someone about you or a friend of yours, they’re all going to highlight different things about you because their relationship with you is unique. That same thing is going on in the Gospels. It’s not that some aren’t true or some are contradicting one another, no, they’re just highlighting different parts of who Jesus is.

So one of the things that you see in Matthew’s Gospel, is he’s highlighting a lot about who Jesus is as a Jew, because Jesus is fulfilling all of these different requirements or different things that the Messiah was said to have. So there are prophecies about who this Messiah will be, and Matthew is going to highlight a lot of those, and you won’t see those same themes in Luke’s Gospel.

It’s not that some aren’t true or some are contradicting one another, no, they’re just highlighting different parts of who Jesus is.

If you’re looking for a Gospel to start reading, Mark’s is the shortest, and it’s really action-packed. A lot of the sections start, “And Jesus did this, and then Jesus went here and immediately.” So it moves pretty fast, and it’s the shortest of all of them. So maybe give that one a try if you’re looking for a place to get your feet wet, start with Mark’s gospel.

A few things for you to know, just to set the scene culturally and politically about the Gospels, there are a few things going on in this part of the world at this particular time period that are important to know. Sometimes I think those can be stumbling blocks if we don’t know what they are, because Jesus came at a particular time in history. So if we don’t know what’s happening, we’re gonna feel lost.

So a few of those are that everybody is looking for the Messiah, this Anointed One. God’s people are seeking to know who is this person who’s going to come save us and restore us to God, who’s going to free us from sin. And there have been other people who have been around at this time who have claimed to be the Anointed One, claimed to be the Messiah or other people, followers who have thought that they found the Messiah and that it wasn’t the right person. You see some of the people in the Gospels thinking that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, is the Messiah, so everybody’s trying to find this Messiah, and they’re trying to figure out if it’s Jesus. So that comes up a lot in the Gospels.

God’s people are seeking to know who is this person who’s going to come save us and restore us to God, who’s going to free us from sin.

Another major thing going on is that Rome has taken over this part of the world. So there’s a lot of distrust towards the Romans and a lot of hostility towards Rome and you see that throughout the Gospels because Rome is there, the Jewish people are trying to get any kind of power and authority that they have left. So there’s a lot of power plays happening between the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who don’t like Jesus and see him as a threat, and then you also have King Herod who’s really more of a figurehead. He doesn’t have a lot of authority at all, but it makes it look like Rome’s not in complete control even though they are. So just know that that’s a little bit of the political scene going on, so that when you read these things in the Gospels, you’re not completely thrown off.

Some things that you see Jesus emphasizing in the Gospels, he’s really focused on helping us understand the truth of God’s love for us. He came that we would understand God’s mercy, and so you see him teaching and preaching to try and help us better know God’s love for us and to know how to respond to that, to know what it means to live as a follower of him, to know what it means to live as a child of God. So Jesus is constantly going around trying to preach truth.

You also see him trying to bring life. So he’s going around and he’s working miracles, and he’s bringing healing to people, not because he’s trying to show off, but because he’s trying to free us from anything that would bind us, and he’s doing this in a physical way because he wants to set us free from from our ailments and from death. But he’s also trying to show us that he wants to do that in a spiritual way as well. He wants to free us from our sins. So, you see those two things.

A few other examples of what Jesus is doing in the Gospels, he talks about his father all the time because that’s where his heart is. He loves his father, and he shares that relationship with his father with all of us. That’s why he came, to reconcile us, to bring us back into relationship with God the Father. That’s why he dies on the cross, to free us from sins and from anything that would keep us from living in the love of God. In John’s Gospel alone, Jesus talks about his father 108 times. That’s his main focus. It’s a priority for everything that he does. He’s constantly trying to point to the Father.

That’s why he dies on the cross, to free us from sins and from anything that would keep us from living in the love of God.

Another major thing he’s doing is gathering followers to establish a church. He wants to be able to spread the truth and the life that he has to everyone in the world, not just in this tiny little region of the Holy Land. And he wants this message to be spread, not just while he’s walking around on the earth, but for hundreds and thousands of years to come. And that’s why the church is so important, and that’s why he’s taking time to found and establish the church by calling followers to come after him.

And the last thing you see that I want to highlight is his emphasis on the Holy Spirit. He talks about the Holy Spirit coming to continue to teach us truth and to fill us with life, and that the Holy Spirit will enable us to know him more deeply and to remain close to him, even after he dies and rises and now is in heaven. He sends us his spirit so that we would be close to him, and so that we would live as children of God, and so that we would do even greater things than he did. That’s his hope. Those are his words.

So these are things that Jesus focuses on in the Gospels, and we should look for these things and try and learn more about them as we read the scriptures. We will be praying for you at Ablaze and hoping that you’re diving into the Gospels. Again, we recommend starting with Mark. Please know that you are in our prayers, and we hope that these videos help you really dive into the Word of God. From all of us at Ablaze, God bless.

Video How Do You Read the Bible?

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. My name is Matt Rice, and this series we’re gonna start diving into Scripture a little bit, more specifically, on how you can start to study Scripture together as a family. In this first episode, this first one in the series is going to be real basic.

So if you know Scripture, then this may be very rudimentary for you. But, if this is your first time actually sitting down to crack open the Bible and to start really to digest it, then this will be really good for you.

So what I always do when I talk to people about Scripture is, I point out to them as Christians like our focus is the New Testament. But out of the whole Bible, it’s a very small portion of Scripture. So just as a visual, you can see right here that about a quarter of this Bible is the New Testament. And so, this is what we focus on mostly as Christians.

It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a ton of value in here, but as far as what we focus on typically, it’s New Testament because that’s where we get to hear about the life of Jesus, his miracles, and the forming of the Church and what the new Church did in the New Testament. It’s just really exciting stuff for us Christians. We get to see a lot of the background and a lot of our heritage that came from our Jewish roots in the Old Testament.

So basically the structure of the Bible is relatively simple. It’s like a library. It’s not a book, it’s a series of books. So just like you wouldn’t walk into a library and pick up a book that is in the first book that starts with “a” and start reading, you go to the library you find the book that interests you. You find a style of writing that interests you. So that’s what you do when you go into Scripture, when you want to first start diving into it. Start looking at something that you’re interested in.

For me, I love action. I like seeing stuff happen and hearing about things happen, so, to be honest, I’d turn to Acts of the Apostles when I really want to be inspired and I want to look at this. So I’ll flip to Acts of the Apostles and there is action, there’s something happening over and over again in Acts. If romance is something that you enjoy, honestly Song of Songs. The Song of Solomon is what you would want to read in this. There’s some really beautiful language in that and honestly my wife and I, on the inside of our wedding rings, we have a verse from there which is, “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” There are all types of different types of literary styles in Scripture, and just find the one that best suits you.

So the way that the scripture is set up is with chapter and verse. So when someone says, “John 3:16,” you look for the book of John, which that is one of the Gospels, one of the four Gospels, you have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So you’ll turn to John 3. And you’ll see at the top, it’ll say John 3, and then you’ll look through the the Bible itself and it’ll say chapter 3. You go down through John 3 you look for 16. So John 3:16 then we see, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.”

The reason it’s set up that way is it so that it’s easy to find. Those chapters and verses were not originally put in there with the text, they were put in there for us. So that we can easily reference God’s word, because this is meant to be something that we devour, that we that we look through and we pray through and we invest in.

A lot of times as Catholics we will get so comfortable with hearing Scripture at Mass, because we hear a lot of scripture at Mass, that we think like that’s enough, but it’s not enough. We have to dive into this ourselves as a family and at home, and my hope is that you find a Bible like this, this is a Catholic edition of Scripture and it’s got footnotes in it, which will help you as you’re reading through it, so it’s a study Bible.

There are devotionals as well, Catholic devotionals, that will help you dive into it a little bit deeper, but my prayer for you is that you find that, you find a Bible that you want to dive into and invest in and that you spend time in God’s Word daily and especially as a family. And we’ll dive into that a little bit later in this series. Thanks for joining us. God bless

Video Staying Plugged In

How do we stay connected with our children and teenagers in a post-modern world? Matt has some great examples and ideas so that you are a consistent and natural presence in your youths’ lives.

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. My name is Matt Rice, and we’re continuing with our series on teens and technology. And while this video is going to be a bit about technology, it’s gonna be a kind of a play on the word of being plugged in.

Plugged into Daily Life

We want you to be plugged in with your child. We want you to be plugged in with your youth. And yes, some of this absolutely because of where we live or how we live these days is definitely connected to technology. A lot of it isn’t though. A lot of it is plugging in as a parent into their daily life, into their sports, into their school.

Social Media

But first on the technology bit actually our photographer that’s here today, he said one of the things he does as a parent is he follows his kids on every single social media outlet that they’re on. And that’s a really good way for a parent to stay plugged in because sometimes your kids come home and you say how was your day and they won’t say a single word. But you hop on Instagram and you see a photo of them with a friend that you haven’t seen them with in a long time, and you can ask them, “Oh! Hey, how’s that friend doing?” Where you might not have had that conversation point at another time without that photo. So stay plugged into their social media accounts.

Your goal as a parent in a certain way is to help them grow up, to be productive adults that you enjoy to be around.

Video Games

Honestly stay plugged into them with their video games. I know this is kind of dorky and maybe it’s because I like to play video games, but I think it’d be a lot of fun at least I think it would be, if you ask your kid, “Hey, what video game are you playing now? You want to teach me how to play it?” Because parents playing video games sometimes looks pretty silly, and I think the kids could have a lot of fun with that.

Sports & Activities

So stay plugged in with your kids in that way and other ways to stay plugged in with your kids is in their sports, going to their events. Of course I know that sounds like almost stupid to mention, but a lot of parents don’t realize how valuable that is, even if they’re sitting on the bench, even if they’re you know second string, being there and being present and again being their biggest fan connects you to them.

The Goal of Parenthood

So why is all this important? Why is being plugged into their life important? Your goal as a parent in a certain way is to help them grow up, to be productive adults that you enjoy to be around. That’s actually a definition that Trey Cashion and Stephanie Cashion over at the Mystery of Parenthood used when they talk about raising their kids. And if they want to raise kids that they enjoy being around as adults.

Sensing Changes

Another reason that you want to be plugged in with your kid and what’s going on in their life, is you want to be able to know who they are, so that you can sense changes because sometimes things will happen in their life that you don’t know what happened, whether it’s an abuse situation or if it’s bullying, and if you don’t know who they are as a person, if you don’t know their personality, it’s gonna be a lot harder for you to sense the change in them when they react to that. So as parents we want to love our kids as best we can, and the best way to do that is to stay plugged in their lives and know what’s going on in their life so you notice the changes in them, and you can address them as they come up.

But if you’re doing something with them, if you’re participating in something with them, then all the walls are down, and their life just comes out.

A Natural Place for Conversation

One of the reasons to stay plugged in with your kids and to do their hobbies with them, go to their sports with them, is that these become so natural, so normal that other conversations happen around them. So let’s say your kid loves to throw the frisbee or go play frisbee golf or is on a sports team, the ride to and from there becomes actually a natural place for conversation to happen. Or while you’re playing the sport, while you’re participating in whatever it is, conversation can naturally happen.

Sharing Your Lives

And it’s not an awkward, kind of forced conversation. You’re actually enjoying each other’s company, and at that same time, you’re sharing your lives with each other, and it’s in its natural state, because a lot of times, when you sit a kid down and ask them how their life’s going, they draw a blank just like we do. But if you’re doing something with them, if you’re participating in something with them, then all the walls are down, and their life just comes out.

Support Your Youth Ministers

Another way for parents to naturally stay plugged in with their kids is, and I hate to say it, no no I don’t hate to say it, this is the shameless plug for youth ministers all around the world, they need you. They need you to volunteer in their programs. And if you volunteer in the middle school program, the high school program, where your kid is, you can ask them not to be in their small group, that’s perfectly fine. But you get plugged into that age group, you know what’s going on in their lives, and you get to see what’s actually taught at the class because the kids aren’t gonna necessarily tell you when they get home. Other natural ways to get plugged in is volunteering to coach their sports teams, to assistant coach on those teams.

Our prayer from Beyond the Pew is that you do something concrete to invest in, to plug into the life of your young person, so that you get to know them and just love on them. God bless

Video Intentionally Using Technology for Your Faith

Technology is a tool that can be distracting and destructive or uplifting and supportive. In this video, Jennifer talks about how we can use apps, websites, and blogs to help form and focus our faith.

Hi and welcome to Beyond the Pew. Today we’re gonna talk about how technology can actually bring us closer to God.

Good Morning Facebook

Now I have to be honest. The way that I tend to use technology does not bring me closer to God. I am one of those people that the first thing that I do in the morning is grab my phone, and I look at my notifications on Facebook, all my little hearts on Instagram, and I just scroll and after a while I found that I’ve just wasted an hour mindlessly just scrolling on Facebook and not really doing anything productive.

So we are just taking this journey together and discovering and finding ways that technology can—and it can—help us bring us closer to God and help us in our faith life. Now what I’ve discovered is that if we are not careful and if we just let technology kind of do its thing, technology’s not gonna bring us closer to God. It’s going to waste our time, and it’s going to pull us further away in our faith life, and we’re not gonna be dedicating time to prayer like we should.

Using Technology Intentionally

But if we are intentional about using technology in a way that encourages us to talk to God, to have a prayer life, to read our Bible, it can actually be really beneficial. So I just want to throw some apps out there and some other blogs that I’ve found useful as a fellow citizen of the world that has a hard time putting down her phone.

Download Your Bible

So one of those apps is Bible apps. There are tons of different Bible apps out there. I’ll let you just kind of go on your own Play Store or iTunes whatever and look up different Bible apps that suit you because there are tons out there. But Bible apps can be really useful. You don’t have to carry around a huge Bible around with you wherever you go. If you want to do that, that’s totally cool. But you can have all the access that a Bible has, just on the touch of your screen.

So some of these apps allow you to take notes. They allow you to highlight. They let you copy/paste. They let you share. Some will pop up as like a daily scripture verse, and you can use these to help with your own memorization or to share with a friend or just to remind you to open your actual physical Bible and to study it. Some have study guides, and there are concordances and will compared with different versions and languages and can really help you dive in depth of what the author is really trying to say.

There’s an App for That

There’s also iBreviary for morning prayer, night prayer, Liturgy of the hours, things like that. There’s a Laudate app, which I have, and on that app there’s a confession tool that allows you to kind of go through an examination of conscience and will let you remember the things that you want to remember to say in confession, and then you can just clear the whole thing after you’ve gone a confession. Very awesome, very cool way that technology can help bring us closer to God.

Another cool app that I discovered is there’s one called Questions to God, and this app actually generates common questions that people have to God. And just like random things like, why do you love me, or why did you make me, and then they don’t have answers to these questions, but the point is if you’re having trouble in your prayer life and you don’t know what to say to God, you can just pull up in this app and it like kind of generates a question for you. God why did you make me? Why did you love me, things like that and you can make that your prayer, and it just kind of helps with a conversation if you’re new and your prayer you’re new with talking to God, you’re not really sure where to start, that’s a good place to start.

Blogs for Catholics

There are several women’s blogs that I follow such as Blessed Is She and Heart of Mary, Women’s Fellowship that do daily blogs, daily readings. They’ll sometimes have like an image with some quotes from saints or scripture verses that really helped me and encouraged me.

There are some good men’s blogs out there too, the Catholic Gentleman is a good one. Some of these do daily readings and then a reflection just to kind of help us connect our daily lives with whatever the readings are.

Bringing Fruit in Our Lives

So like I said, there’s so many ways to allow technology to be good in our lives. If we’re not careful like I said and if we’re just using technology as we desire, it’s not going to bring us closer to God. But I really challenge you, as I’m challenging myself, to be intentional with the way that we use technology, so that it can help actually bring fruit in our spiritual life. God bless

8 Catholic Apps You Need Right Now

Video School Year Stress

Now that school has begun another year, it’s time to talk about the stress that enters your students’ lives. School is stressful. But we can help them manage it by building support and fostering life skills that will help them into adulthood.

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. In this video, in our back to school series, we’re gonna be talking about stress when it comes to our teenagers and their school performance or their school activities.

Stress in Their Lives

We often take prayer intentions down at our youth nights to ask the kids what do you want God to be present in, what do you need prayers for. The number one thing we get prayer intentions for is about school stress, whether it’s an exam they have coming up or a project that they’re worried about or maybe something activity or organization related, that they have a chair test coming up or nominations for something, there’s a lot of anxiety around these things. And part of me thinks that’s normal because this is where they spend the majority of their time and where a lot of their attention and activity is directed and focused. But the high levels of anxiety are a little alarming at times and I think there’s something that we definitely need to pay attention to.

Several years ago the American Psychological Association did an entire survey on teenagers and stress, and they found that a lot of teenagers report to be more stressed than adults, which is concerning. So we need to look at these things and figure out how we can help them navigate this stressful time so that the stress doesn’t over arch this entire season of their life.

Reframe It

I think a way that we can do that is to really speak truth into this stress, to reframe it, and to help them during times where they’re anxious about these things. I know that a lot of times a way that youth can become stressed is because somehow they start to believe that their worth or their value is based off of how they’re performing at school, which sounds really silly but I think it’s a real problem that happens and occurs in the minds of our teenagers. So they might think something like okay well if I get a C on this test and that means I’m a C as a person. Or if I don’t make first or second chair, I’m a terrible musician and I might as well not even be in the band. Or if I don’t make the lead then nobody’s gonna come see me and I might as well just not have tried out to be in this play. Again, that might sound silly, but I know that I had a similar belief when I was in high school.

a lot of times a way that youth can become stressed is because somehow they start to believe that their worth or their value is based off of how they’re performing at school

I thought that because my mom didn’t come to a lot of my school events that she didn’t care about me. That was not true at all. But that was a real thing in my mind. I don’t think I would have articulated it that way, but it did affect my relationship with her a lot. So again I think that’s where a lot of this stress is coming from, that our youth are finding their worth and their value in how they do in these things, or they think that the way that we love them or the way that we will interact with them is dependent upon their school performance. We know this is not true, but we have to be very honest and very persistent in reminding them of this.

Things We Need to Say

So some phrases that might sound kind of cheesy but that need to be said because they’re true, something like you know what I know you’re worried about this test but whether you get an A or not I still love you. Or you know what you might not be on the starting lineup for the basketball team but I’m still your biggest fan and I will still be there cheering for you even so. These kinds of statements to help them realize that our love for them is unconditional and it’s not dependent upon their school performance. I think that as a starting point is huge and the most important thing.

Engaging the Stress

Some other ways that we can help them navigate this stress, we can engage it. So if we see that they’re anxious about an exam coming up we can just ask them about it. You know what you’ve been talking about this math test all week long, tell me a little bit more about that. Why is that making you so nervous? Why are you so anxious about it? Or you’ve been really talking about this nomination, tell me more about it. What’s going on with this? Why are you stressed about it because you seem kind of stressed. So we can engage it. We can help them with it. So you’ve been studying really hard for this. I know you’ve been putting in a lot of time and a lot of work. How can I help you with it? Do you need me to quiz you? Do you need to read lines for this tryout that you have coming up, because I’m here to support you in what you’re doing with this thing.

Redirect Them

We can also redirect them so if they’re really down about a certain subject like I’m terrible at chemistry. And every time there’s a chemistry test, it’s just like the whole world falls off its axis. We can interact with them and say okay I know chemistry’s not your best thing, but remember last week when you got a really good grade on your English paper that still happened. Remember that your whole life is not dependent upon this chemistry test that you have coming up.

Encourage Them

And then the last thing that we can do is just really encourage them to be present to their struggles, to say you know what you’re doing a great job. I know you’re worried about it, but if you do as well on this test if it’s related at all to how much time you’ve put studying into it, you should do fine. I believe in you. You can pray with them, just finding ways to bring them hope and to let them know that you’re with them in these difficult times, those can be real game changers when it comes to helping our kids navigate stress in school.

From us at Beyond the Pew, God bless.